The number of unique mobile subscribers in APAC is expected to rise to over three billion by 2025, when the region will account for half of all new subscribers globally.

But while mobile is driving growth in digital advertising, with almost 60% of digital ads already delivered through devices, irritation with mobile ads formats is also on the rise. Many users are expressing their mobile-specific discontent through the use of ad blockers, with ad blocking rates nearing 40%.

Advertisers need to review their approach to mobile advertising to not only ride the tide of ad blockers, but to provide a positive user experience that will make users want to engage.

Use formats made for mobile

Poor experiences that lead mobile users to block ads include interruptive formats and slow loading content. Advertisers are often focused on grabbing user attention, leading them to use formats such as pop-ups and interstitials which can be intrusive and annoying, especially on small screens.

To avoid irritating users, advertisers can look for native ad formats that blend seamlessly with the content of the page and deliver the brand message effectively without interrupting the experience. Creatives should be designed specifically for mobile, using formats such as vertical short-form video.

Advertisers can avoid slow loading content, another cause of frustration that can lead to ad blocking, by ensuring their ads are served in units integrated into accelerated mobile pages (AMP).

These stripped back, fast-loading versions of regular web pages deliver content and ads far more quickly, preventing users abandoning mobile web pages.

Tell a story with content and ads

Users see little value in generic, sales-heavy messaging, they want mobile creative to tell an engaging brand story, mixing beneficial content with advertising to deliver an enhanced experience.

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic there have been plenty of examples of brands using storytelling to reach out and create an emotive connection through their ad campaigns.

From March to April, Western Union ran a global campaign to raise funds for medical treatment in China and other countries. The simple but effective digital ads read ‘behind every mask there is a heart’ and encouraged people to donate, with Western Union pledging to match public donations.

In Singapore, Gojek launched a campaign called GoHeroes to highlight its support for frontline healthcare workers. It is providing hospitals with Gojek ride vouchers that can be distributed to staff so they can safely travel to and from work.

As part of its Delivering For Good initiative, FedEx ran a campaign called A Journey to China, explaining how its transportation network and logistics resources are used to deliver urgently needed humanitarian aid.

At this time of global crisis, consumers are far more likely to engage with ads that tell a genuine story than with those displaying pushy and generic sales messaging.

Reach mobile users in the right context

In addition to choosing made-for-mobile formats and telling a brand story, advertisers also need to ensure ads reach users in the right context to engage.

One way to do this is to use contextual targeting, analyzing the user’s activity to understand what they are reading, browsing and clicking on, and then delivering an optimal combination of relevant ads and content, ultimately maximizing the chances of engagement.

In addition, advertisers can also use machine-learning powered brand safety filters to ensure their ads are placed in an appropriate context.

As phones continues to grow it gives advertisers the chance to connect with users on a personal level. To make the most of this opportunity, advertisers must adopt a made-for-mobile mindset, exploring the most effective formats, ensuring their messaging tells an engaging story and targeting ads to relevant and appropriate contexts where users are ready to interact.